Henry Augustin Beers (1847-?)

return to sonnet central return to 19th century Americans

Waiting for Winter

What honey in the year's last flowers can hide,
These little butterflies may know:
With falling leaves they waver to and fro,
Or on the swinging tops of asters ride.
But I am weary of the summer's pride
And sick September's simulated show:
Why do the colder winds delay to blow
And bring the pleasant hours that we abide;
To curtained alcove and sweet household talks,
Or sweeter silence by our flickering Lars,
Returning late from Autumn evening walks
Upon the frosty hills, while reddening Mars
Hangs low between the withered mullein stalks,
And upward throngs the host of winter stars!


The little creek which yesterday I saw
Ooze through the sedges, and each brackish vein
That sluiced the marsh, now filled and then again
Sucked dry to glut the sea's unsated maw,
All ebb and flow by the same rhythmic law
That times the beat of the Atlantic main--
They also fastened to the swift moon's train
By unseen cords that no less strongly draw.
So, poet, may thy life's small tributary
Threading some bitter marsh, obscure, alone,
Feel yet one pulse with the broad estuary:
That bears an emperor's fleets through half a zone
May wait upon the same high luminary
And pitch its voice to the same ocean's tone.

The Singer of One Song

He sang one song and died -- no more but that:
A single song and carelessly complete.
He would not bind and thresh his chance-grown wheat,
Nor bring his wild fruit to the common vat,
To store the acid rinsings, thin and flat,
Squeezed from the press or trodden under feet.
A few slow beads, blood-red and honey-sweet,
Oozed from the grape, which burst and spilled its fat.
But Time, who soonest drops the heaviest things
That weight his pack, will carry diamonds long.
So through the poets' orchestra, which weaves
One music from a thousand stops and strings,
Pierces the note of that immortal song:--
"High over all the lonely bugle grieves."